Welcome to day 3, the middle of the first act of the 2022 Aki basho. Team Tachiai divides a tournament into a trio fo 5 day segments, each that have their own purpose and goals. For act 1, we look at this goal as “Remove ring rust, see who is hot and who is not”. So far, there seems to be some amount of rust on our top rikishi, and we are starting to see some get into a rut of losing matches. There are still 3 days to go, so please don’t get too concerned just yet. Many of our favorites are just getting warmed up!
For those wondering Asanoyama won his first match in Makushita, on his bid to return to the paid ranks by November by turning in a 7-0 score with a yusho on top. It’s fun to see him go to work, as he’s still very much near Ozeki level sumo right now, and he goes through his hapless first opponent with overwhelming force. His first opponent? Kawazoe, a man entering sumo as a tsukidashi at Makushita 15. He is a former college Yokozuna. Here, in case you did not see it last night….
What We Are Watching Day 3
Chiyonokuni vs Tsurugisho – One of the benefits of an Abi-sized banzuke gap is that we can get a daily dose of favorites who are recuperating further down the roster. Today it’s on of my favorites, Chiyonokuni. Given the state of Chiyonokuni’s body, this might be a tough match for him. In fact he has not won a single match from Tsurugisho this year in spite of 3 attempts.
Hiradoumi vs Yutakayama – first ever match up, and I am now a bit concerned about Yutakayama. He’s looking lethargic and a bit lost in his first 2 matches of Aki, and I wonder if he’s struggling in some way. In contrast, Hiradoumi is looking sharp, and comes in with a 2-0 record. This is their first ever tournament fight.
Chiyoshoma vs Mitoryu – This should be a fairly straightforward Chiyoshoma win. He has a 3-0 record against Mitoryu. The one wrinkle being they have not fought a match in 2½ years (January 2020, the last loud basho)
Ichiyamamoto vs Terutsuyoshi – Both rikishi are 1-1, but I think that Ichiyamamoto is in better fighting form right now. He lost to Okinoumi on day 2, in part thanks to the veteran’s encyclopedia of sumo strategies. For Terutsuyoshi, he needs to work now to avoid problems of demotion talk in week two. They share a 2-2 career match record.
Oho vs Ryuden – This will be a nice test for Oho, who may be fighting a bit better than we have seen so far this year. He has not won a single match from Ryuden in 2 attempts, both of them were earlier this year in Juryo.
Kotoshoho vs Okinoumi – Talk about falling short of your potential, Kotoshoho is 0-2 to start day 3. At one point I thought he had a lot of potential to be a solid mid to upper Maegashira rikishi. But after a kyujo in March of 2021, he has never been quite the same. He has not lost to Okinoumi in the past (2-0), so maybe he can score a much needed first win today.
Chiyotairyu vs Takanosho – It continues to look like Takanosho was under-ranked / over demoted coming out of July. He absolutely dominated his first two matches, and I am looking forward to see what he does against Chiyotairyu. Yes, Chiyotairyu is very one dimensional in his normal sumo. But given his size and speed, that one dimension works most of the time.
Myogiryu vs Nishikifuji – Myogiryu won their only prior match, which was last basho at Nagoya. I like how Nishikifuji has been fighting the first two days, and I genuinely think this could be a tough fight for both of them, as it’s an even match.
Tochinoshin vs Kotoeko – One of these days, Kotoeko is going to pick up his first win. He’s 0-2 right now, and I think that it may be in part because of ring rust issues. That’s all well and good until the smaller sized Kotoeko comes up against the extra large Tochinoshin. Thus far it’s been fairly tough for Kotoeko to get the best of the former Ozeki (2-6), and as long as Tochinoshin does not get that knee in the wrong place, he should be able to out-muscle Kotoeko today.
Aoiyama vs Hokutofuji – I am worried about Big Dan. Clearly that knee is not in the best of shape, and he is not fighting well right now. Maybe it’s some ring rust, or maybe he’s hurt enough that he can’t really execute his big brawny sumo. He faces Hokutofuji today, and that brings with it a 2-13 career record. In fact, Hokutofuji can count on Aoiyama to be a reliable win most basho. The last time Aoiyama won a match against ole’ stompy? Aki 2019.
Onosho vs Endo – Onosho put forth a massive effort on day 2, and it was maybe one of his better matches so far this year. But he still has yet to put his first win on the board. He is not likely to find it today against Endo, who comes in at 1-1, and not looking very genki right now. Endo also has a 7-4 career win advantage over the junior tadpole, Onosho.
Takarafuji vs Wakamotoharu – We can bank on this being a yotsu-zumo match, yes indeed. I have noticed that so far, Takarafuji is having a tough time getting his feet set, and holding ground. As his whole approach to sumo is “defend and extend”, this severely limits what he can do to try and win any contest. Could be a tough day for him against 2-0 Wakamotoharu.
Sadanoumi vs Takayasu – Takayasu got taken to the cleaners on day 2 with that Ura leg pick. Hopefully he won’t have that risk with Sadanoumi, who has never beaten Takayasu in 6 attempts. Both men come into this match with middling 1-1 records.
Tamawashi vs Nishikigi – Nishikigi, your current “magical mystery tour” gets a stop at iron-man’s house of sumo. I expect Tamawashi to go bowling with Nishikigi today. There is a 5-0 precedent for Tamawashi to dominate these contests, though the last time they fought was March of 2019.
Ichinojo vs Hoshoryu – Folks who were excited for Ichinojo’s yusho will note that he was able to bounce back from a disappointing loss or two last tournament. Today is his chance to do that again. He has a nearly even record against Hoshoryu (5-6), but he may struggle with Hoshoryu’s agility.
Wakatakakage vs Kiribayama – Hard to believe that Wakatakakage has an 0-2 start. But if you look at his recent history, he has cold starts to many of his tournaments. Hatsu of this year featured a 0-4 start, and Nagoya was 0-2. So a win today, should it happen, would be par for the course. But Kiribayama has a propensity to win against Wakatakakage (6-4), so this might be a real challenge for the Ozeki hopeful.
Daieisho vs Ura – Well, somebody had to fight Ura today. Load some big thrusts today, Daieisho. And don’t let your hands linger near his body after you deliver the force to center mass. He’s going to try to grab something and make you wish it was not there.
Midorifuji vs Shodai – My co-hosts on the podcast were correct, Midorifuji is seriously over ranked, and is going to get the stuffing knocked loose if he keeps fighting the big muscle of sumo. Today it’s Shodai. Now I would love to see some cartoon sumo from Shodai today, but I will settle for this basho’s first display of his “Wall of Daikon”.
Takakeisho vs Tobizaru – Fresh from flaying a kinboshi from the Yokozuna’s back, Tobizaru takes aim at the lead Ozeki, Takakeisho. Takakeisho has a 3-1 career lead, but I have not see him really crank up the tsuppari machine so far this month. He will need to stay mobile as Tobizaru showed up quite a bit of useful agility in his match against Terunofuji. Takakeisho leads their career record 3-1.
Meisei vs Mitakeumi – I still think Mitakeumi is on course for a very good performance this basho. If he can keep rolling, he should be able to compete for the cup in week 2. He has little trouble from Meisei in the past, holding a 8-2 career record against him. For his part, Meisei will need to somehow get past what is turning into quite a solid ottsuke from Mitakeumi.
Terunofuji vs Kotonowaka – Please, Terunofuji. Just put risking star Kotonowaka away with minimum fuss and drama. I am sure your knees are tenuous at best, but we fans want the Yokozuna to remain in this basho.